A very competitive line up will take their place in the main race, with Waller supplying four of the twelve horses accepted, Foreteller, Tromso, Riva De Lago and Thumbtacks. While all four have varying prospects for victory it is the recent addition to his stable Riva De Lago that has the superior Timeform weight adjusted ratings.
This fellow has now raced twice since joining the Waller stable but has quickly reached his previous master Timeform rating of 104 with the promise of more to come. Fitted with blinkers for his first run for Waller, Riva De Lago resumed over 1100m in benchmark 95 grade but found the distance too short getting home fast for second behind Pentasia.
Then last start he stepped up to Listed company in the Razor Sharp Quality over 1200m at Warwick Farm. Racing out of the handicap at the weights he ran home solidly for third to Adebisi indicating that he should be suited by a longer distance. Wisely Waller has elected to stretch him out to 1400m today and although a kilo out of the handicap again this afternoon, I believe he is ready to go to a new peak rating that will more than offset that disadvantage.
The prospect of a solid tempo will be to his advantage and although yet to win at 1400m, Riva De Lago has been successful over 1350m as a younger galloper so I am confident today's trip will be ideal.
Former Hong Kong trained galloper Hypurr Timeform rated 119 looms as the major threat. Now trained by Joe Pride on the Warwick Farm circuit, Hypurr brings some excellent Hong Kong form to the race. For example last year he was just under three lengths from champion galloper Ambitious Dragon over 1600m in G1 company at Sha Tin.
Following two trials, he caught the eye at his first run in Australia finishing fourth behind Adebisi in the Listed Razor Sharp Stakes over 1200m on his home track. That run should have bought Hypurr on considerably fitness wise and the step up to 1400m is also a positive considering he has a three from seven start win record at the distance, the only query being if he is ready to carry 59.5kgs second up after such a long spell from racing.
Given his excellent record second up from a spell of two wins from four runs in that state, it would be wise to keep this fellow very safe this afternoon.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained Samui Lad is the form horse going into the race and looks well suited. Timeform rated 103, this fellow was most impressive last start winning over 1400m at Rosehill in somewhat easier grade. Second up on that occasion he was trapped wide early, but took up the lead before the home turn, fighting on strongly to win in a close finish.
That victory was in benchmark 90 grade and although he rises in class this afternoon has scope for further improvement. Another decided advantage is being the only recognised leader in the race, under Tommy Berry he should be able to dictate from the front.
The G2 Villiers Handicap has already proven a sound form reference with runner up Alma's Fury winning the Bernborough Handicap next time out and another Waller-trained galloper Thumbtacks comes off that race with excellent credentials today. Thumbtacks struck a "purple patch" of form last campaign but in three runs this time in has yet to reproduce the same level of performance.
However the drop back from Stakes class is certain to be of benefit, the Pins gelding contesting a slightly inferior field on this occasion. Last start in the Villiers, Thumbtacks had no luck in the 1600m contest. After settling handy he became pocketed in the home straight and was untested in the run to the line, eventually beaten just over three lengths.
A much better effort is expected this afternoon, the gelding boasting a five career win record around the Warwick Farm circuit. Again drawn handily, Thumbtacks should race forward and with clear running in the straight should get an opportunity to play a part in the finish.
The "forgotten" Waller horse is Tromso who was well below form last start in the Listed Festival Stakes over 1500m at Rosehill but he is capable of better. Champion rider Hugh Bowman who has won on the horse previously has been reunited with him this afternoon, the pair just going down at his start prior behind the handy mare Classics over 1400m at Rosehill.
A repeat of that performance sees Tromso fighting out the finish. On balance however, Riva De Lago looks very well rated and placed to produce a new peak today.
Off Time 04.50 BST
Back Riva De Lago @ 4.84/1
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